13:45 PM

Sprains, Strains & Other Pains

Realizing no high school sports player wants to be sidelined, “our model at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) is ‘return to play without delay,’” says Richard Canlas, MD, board-certified sports medicine physician with LVPG Orthopedics and Richard Canlas, MD Sports Medicine–Health & Wellness Sports medicine Center in Hazleton. “We try to restore function to pre-injury levels as safely and quickly as possible.”

Before returning to play, young athletes should have pain-free range of motion, full strength and ability to perform sports-specific skills. Chelsea Evans, DO, board-certified sports medicine physician with LVPG Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, says reaching that point requires time. “Often this means keeping an athlete from the game,” Evans says. “How long varies because everybody heals differently.”

Injury severity also determines treatment and length of removal from play. Common injury categories include:

  • Sprains and strains – Injuries to ligaments (sprains) or muscles or tendons (strains) should be graded on whether tissue is stretched, partially torn or fully torn, as healing time varies.

  • Fractures – Injuries that involve a cracked or broken bone need to be assessed to determine whether healing requires casting or surgery.

  • Concussions – LVHN concussion programs can assess traumatic brain injury. “Having a neuropsychiatric screening before starting a sport (such as ImPACT® test) can provide a baseline for comparison that may aid recovery and return to play,” Canlas says.

“LVHN has a wide network of specialists in primary care sports medicine, orthopedic surgery, physical and occupational therapy, neurology and more,” Evans says. “Whatever an athlete needs, we have the bases covered.”

PRICE of healing

Taking these steps immediately after an injury can speed healing, reduce pain and control swelling.

  • Protection: Use crutches or braces to stabilize or take weight off an injured body part and prevent further injury.

  • Rest: Stop activity as soon as you’re hurt and get evaluated. Playing through pain can make an injury worse and delay recovery.

  • Ice: Wrap a cold pack or bag of ice or frozen peas in a cloth (to prevent frostbite) and apply to the injury for 10 to 20 minutes twice a day or as needed to ease pain, reduce inflammation and control swelling.

  • Compression: Snugly wrap the injured area with an elastic bandage such as an ACE bandage to provide support and minimize swelling.

  • Elevation: Raise the injured body part above the level of your heart to reduce pain and swelling.

Make an appointment. Call 888-402-LVHN (5846) to make an appointment with a sports medicine provider in your area.